Family Stranded After 11-Year-Old is ‘Unfit-to-Fly’
A Birmingham family have claimed that they were left stranded in Turkey when their 11-year-old autistic son was labelled ‘unfit to fly.’
Arshad Sherbaz and Selina Begum, who had spent £2,300 to enjoy the Thomas Cook package holiday with disabled Mustafah and his sister Meelam, 19, were not allowed to board their return flight home after being told Mustafah needed a confirmation certificate from a doctor.
Angry dad Arshad, 41, said, “They told us we needed a doctor’s note to allow him to fly from the airport and were asked to sit in another area while we watched all the other passengers board the plane. We were gobsmacked,’’ he recalled.
“Someone from Thomas Cook told us that they had spoken to the pilot who had refused to let my son on the plane to fly home. They said Arshad was a safety risk and was not fit to fly. We couldn’t understand. I had notified Thomas Cook before the holiday about my son’s disability. The only thing I could think of was that he had a small tantrum on the flight on the way out.”
Mustafah, who has severe autism, communicates through sign language. Arshad said, “It had been a long day. We had missed our flight from Gatwick Airport and had been told to go back to Birmingham for another flight.
“My son had been awake a long time, and naturally was tired. It was the only reason I could think of why they weren’t letting him fly home.”
After being stopped from boarding the plane in July, the family tried to see the airport doctor but he told them they had to visit a local hospital. An ambulance was provided for transport but the parents were told they would be billed for everything.
“They strapped my son to a stretcher and we were all sitting in the back of the ambulance,’’ said Arshad. “It just didn’t feel right. I didn’t have any faith in what was going on. I saw a taxi pull up and put my family in the taxi instead.”
Having stayed another two days and paying an extra £550, the couple and their children returned to the airport, Arshad, said neither airport nor travel firm staff asked to see the ‘fit to fly’ certificate.
“After all of that they never asked to see the letter,” the dad said. “When we got onto the flight we were just so thankful. Even though it was raining when we landed, we were relieved to finally be back in the UK. My son is outgoing and very flexible when it comes to travelling. It was shocking and terrible what happened, and we are still feeling the effects, months on.”